Easy exercises to try

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You don’t have to take up running or join a gym if you want to get more active, there are plenty of lower-impact activities and easy exercises which can improve your health.

If you haven’t exercised for a while, or if you have medical conditions or are concerned about starting to exercise again, speak to your GP first. Adjust your activity and intensity to your personal fitness level.

See whether any of the following options appeal to you:


Walking is the easiest low-impact exercise. It adds a bit of fitness and burns calories. Go faster to get your heart rate up. Go up steep hills to work even harder.


Cycling is a low-impact activity which can be as easy or hard as you want. Just make sure you have your saddle and handlebars at the right height, start slowly and gradually do more.


Swimming might be the best low-impact exercise. It works most of our muscle groups and can be a great workout if you put some effort in. It’s also cheap and easy to get into.


Yoga involves positions and breathing exercises — and can improve fitness and general wellbeing. Doing it regularly can build strength, balance and flexibility. It can also give you a mental lift.


Pilates is about balance and posture, and involves making slow, controlled movements. Doing it regularly can improve strength and increase wellbeing. It’s a good option for those who don’t want to jump around.


Dancing is exercise which doesn’t feel like exercise. It lets us have fun moving to music and gives us the opportunity to meet new people. There are many options, from jive to ballroom or salsa.

Aqua aerobics

Popular with people just starting to exercise, water aerobics is a low-impact activity which only needs basic swimming ability. It includes movements like walking or running on the spot, jumping jacks and arm movements.

Key sources and further reading

NHS Live Well: Exercise

NHS Live Well: Physical Activity guidelines for adults aged 19-64

16 March, 2023